August 2017
At Source One we love happy hours! It's a opportunity time after work to reconnect with the team beyond weekly check-ins and status meetings to enjoy great food and each others' company. As we celebrate our 25th Anniversary this year, we can think of no better way than to collect our Chicago team members, friends, and business affiliates for a Procurement Professionals Happy Hour

We've already begun giving you plenty of reasons to attend and then some more after that - but we know that sometimes its hard to make time for a little bit of fun during the work week. Nonetheless, we have five more reasons for you to stop in on September 14th to meet and network with Procurement professionals. 

15. To Lament the Weather – Besides lake-effect breeze, Chicago also suffers from the wonderful weather pattern we call “lake-effect snow.” In other words, winter is super harsh!. And the summers aren’t any better – thanks to the skyscrapers and pavement, Chicago can reach unbearable heatwave highs; the highest on record? 109 F at Fairway Park.  

14. To Exchange Ghost Stories About the Congress Plaza Hotel – If you’ve missed hearing about the strange phenomena in Chicago’s Congress Plaza Hotel – from the sound of children laughing in the halls in the middle of the night, to the shadow of a woman standing at the foot of your bed – you better drop what you’re doing and show up to Source One’s Happy Hour. You’re gonna wanna hear these tales of terror.

13. To Eat Deep Dish Pizza – Simply put, THE BEST pizza of ANY pizza available in the United States, period (sorry not sorry New York.) You simply aren’t living until you stuff huge, doughy, cheesy deep dish slices into your face (it’s better than Chicago’s ketchup-less hotdogs). If you’re looking for an authentic Chicago experience, you better show up at Source One’s Happy Hour. 

12. To Find Out If Chicago Really is the “Windy City” – You know, there’s a rule somewhere stating that when at the bar, you should never talk about politics. But here at Source One, we’re rule breakers – so really, there is NO better time than happy hour to spur political debates and invite thoughtful conversation. Besides, when you’re half in the bag sipping on white Russians (joke intended), politics is so much more fun!

11. To Have Your Ferris Bueller Day Off – Listen. We aren’t telling your boss if you decided to skip work to paint the town red, wrapping up your fun-filled day at our happy hour. Our lips are sealed. Just make sure your boss doesn’t show up to the Happy Hour, bent on catching you in your little secret. Or that your older sister doesn’t show up either, for that matter. 

Come on! You know you want to join in our Chicago Procurement Professionals Happy Hour! Reach out to Kaitlyn Krigbuam (  for more information!

Tech and other improvements have procurement promiseCompanies hoping to improve their procurement strategies have plenty of different potential approaches to consider. When this function isn't running at 100 percent of its potential efficiency, leaders can consider everything from cutting-edge tech adoption to a full restructuring of the departments involved. While every organization has its own particular path forward, just about every business should be able to find something to update.
While some of the approaches to procurement - and supply chain management in general - are well-tested over time, others have only emerged in recent years. For instance, try and explain the blockchain to an executive from 1999. Considering these latest developments, and judging whether they serve as effective and relevant solutions, can energize and improve procurement departments.

Finding the advantages
A recent report, summarizing research on European companies' procurement needs, explained that plenty of executives, at many different levels of their respective companies, are considering improving their processes in the years ahead. Few of these respondents are completely satisfied with their current level of performance in areas such as strategic alignment and technology usage. Rather than being a bad sign, this dissatisfaction shows that executives are willing to let their companies evolve and improve, and actively looking for programs that will accomplish this goal.
Ayming Senior Consultant James Bousher told the news provider that a recent spate of tech improvement is one of the potential sources of improvement. Furthermore, it's not just procurement-exclusive development that is presenting possible advantages. New communication and visibility boosts, enabled by electronic data interchanges and the blockchain promise to change the way information flows from one partner to another in supply chain situations, provided companies commit to learning about them. explained that alongside the interest in new technology, C-suite executives remain interested in training their team members. Developing individuals' skills, especially their ability to effectively use advanced digital systems, can change the operational profile of a supply chain practically overnight.

Government tech use is a great harbinger of new private-sector innovation.Government tech use is a great harbinger of new private-sector innovation.
Tech from the public sector
Becoming comfortable with new tech options is a process rather than an event - it will take time and happen gradually. According to Bloomberg BNA, the use of solutions including blockchain technology by government agencies is a great way to get the ball rolling. When companies see state and federal agencies ready to investigate these new projects, to the tune of a $1.3 million investment in 2017 thus far, their own faith in the technology will naturally increase.
The developers behind useful blockchain tools now have even more of an incentive to improve their own offerings - government contracts. Bloomberg BNA added that, from there, the adoption of the platforms in question has the potential to expand beyond public-sector agencies and reach the corporate world. Government agencies trusting blockchain platforms to exchange information in their procurement efforts could help the technology shake off some of its image and security woes. Now, rather than being associated with Bitcoin and the dark web, the blockchain will gain a new, more reputable image.

The move toward better sourcing can take many different forms. However, with technology improving so steadily, it's natural for executives to consider new IT investments among their options.

Stakeholders know when sourcing processes need a boost
Is procurement about processes or people? Of course, this is a trick question. While the complex, behind-the-scenes processes that drive sourcing functions are becoming more prominent and involved every year, a company is nothing without the buy-in of its people. A combination of top technology and human ingenuity will see a business through any sourcing challenge.
It's important for companies in need of a sourcing boost to look at their potential issues from each perspective, considering the processes in place, but also doing so through the lens of stakeholder involvement. This hybrid approach can guide a company to a better perspective and greater efficiency.

Polling the stakeholders
Spend Matters recently delved into the question of whether procurement operations should be centralizing their processes or decentralizing and delegating authority. Rather than coming down on one side or the other of this debate, the news provider suggested that each business will have its own ideal mixture, and added that finding this balance involves speaking with important stakeholders. These individuals, the ones who deal with the procurement department on a daily basis, will know when something is awry.
For example, if a leader in another part of the company deals with sourcing but doesn't have someone to consistently communicate with in that department, it's a sign that the structure needs a change. Organizational leaders have a perspective on sourcing's role in the company's big-picture performance and, subjective as it is, this insight may be more useful than a seemingly more objective numerical measure of procurement efficiency.
Sometimes, a lack of satisfaction or visibility at the highest levels is an indication that a company needs to move toward a more tech-enabled procurement model. Aalto University's Katri Kauppi and Spend Matters U.K./Europe Director Peter Smith both told the news provider that when companies invest in more technology, they can create a universal view of procurement that gives access and knowledge, even when decision-making has been centralized.

Procurement's availability to executives in other departments is one determinant of success.Procurement's availability to executives in other departments is one determinant of success.
Constant contact
Of course, creating a bond between company leadership and the sourcing team isn't just a one-off event to be carried out when it seems like things are going wrong. Ideally, these two groups will frequently see eye to eye, meaning they can move forward with unified strategies and ideally never fall into the kind of operational trouble that would call for a strategic rethink. In an interview with Supply & Demand Chain Executive, supply chain researcher and expert Andrew Bartolini explained that chief procurement officers should use frequent conversations with the rest of the C-suite team to set a unified direction.
Ideally, processes will be visible to procurement leaders, and these individuals will be available to speak with the heads of other departments. When there is a general well of knowledge around what the sourcing team does and why, it's easier to determine whether a change would improve things. Bartolini suggested that procurement leaders should add to their insights by speaking not only with their internal counterparts in other departments, but also with supplier executives. When sourcing operations are led by individuals with wide horizons and lots of information, there's less room for confusion and more potential for growth.

Risk Assessment Essential For Supply Chain Success
Supply chain operations at companies that have existed for decades may have fallen victim to that great scourge of business: complacency. Issues may arise at any time, and businesses that don't give enough time or thought to sourcing and procurement may miss them until they have already had a negative effect on the bottom line.
Even in situations where problems aren't erupting, priorities are changing quickly. With new tactics and technology constantly debuting in the supply chain world, staying stagnant is the same as falling behind. Hands-on management and oversight of the supply chain is a way to keep these problems from creeping in.

Making time for risk assessment

Sourcing Journal recently noted that companies should be constantly assessing the risk factors that face their supply operations at all the various stages of procurement. A major problem at any step along the way could cause disruption, and it's therefore essential that responsible supply chain leaders not walk blindly into risks. A good strategy encompasses both the everyday elements that put the supply chain in danger and the disruptions that come from extraordinary external events.

The news provider presented several tips from the Supply Chain Risk Management Consortium, designed to get leaders on the right track. For instance, it pays to determine all relevant stakeholders' tolerance for risk in sourcing. When there is no agreement or communication about this point, it can be difficult to create an optimized approach to procurement.

Furthermore, when organizations become adept at supply chain risk management, they place risk alongside other factors, with equal relevance and importance. This means paying attention to the potential danger of disruption inherent to any change, not tacking on risk discussion after sourcing decisions have already been made. The source pointed out that fast-paced modern models such as fast fashion may fall apart without this heads-up approach to risk management.

Companies may be more vulnerable than they think.Companies may be more vulnerable than they think.
Having a good imagination

As TechTarget recently pointed out, successful risk management means anticipating the effects of all kinds of disruptions, even if those problems are statistically unlikely. The discussion around preparing for large-scale disasters could be uncomfortable, as could setting up insurance for issues that will probably not happen. However, these are prudent parts of running a supply chain today, which is why TechTarget recommended them.

Thinking ahead to potential problems may lead to solving them. The source pointed out that while some in the supply chain claimed that the much-hyped Y2K computer problems never occurred, and that there had been a lot of money wasted in prepping, it was actually that process of thinking ahead that ensured companies were able to dodge the crash. It's better to cast a wide net and prepare for unlikely trouble than to assume everything is OK and stumble into a major disruption.

Intelligent sourcing today means asking difficult questions about what risks companies are incurring in their day-to-day operations, on both small and large scales. By making these calculations ahead of time, organizations may avoid the kinds of disruptions that lead to lost revenue down the road. It's better to be over-prepared than unprepared.
It’s that time of year again when Apple rejuvenates the consumer market with new technologies that will have people in a frenzy. Rumor has it that the event is expected to take place on September 12th, 2017 at the newly constructed Apple Park. The Apple events have become an annual tradition for many within the tech industry and avid users of Apple products, with its popularity rising in recent years due to predictability of them announcing the latest version of the iPhone. Apple is expected to release details on the S-series of the iPhone 7, an updated Apple TV, and a new Apple Watch. However, in addition to all that, this year provides some added suspense as it marks the iPhone’s 10th anniversary building anticipation for many looking to see the new iPhone 8 (unofficial name but we’ll use it for the purpose of this blog), a complete redesign compared to last year’s iPhone 7.

The anticipation of the newly designed iPhone 8 has already been impacting the market, with their market cap increasing by 36%, hovering close to $826 billion, compared to the start of the year. Analysts at Nomura Instinet predict that Apple will move roughly 50 million iPhones by the end of the Q3; 10% more than the same period last year. The new iPhone 8 is, as expected, going to be the most technologically advanced model yet. While nothing has been confirmed by Apple, it is rumored to include:
  • An edge-to-edge display (5.8-Inch, largest iPhone display yet)
  • OLED panel for a brighter and more colorful display
  • Facial-recognition technology by utilizing a 3-D sensor on the front of the device
  • Fingerprint reader on the back of the device
  • Wireless charging capabilities (finally!)
  • “Waterproof” – it will be interesting if Apple actually deems the next generation of devices as waterproof as that carries a lot of liability. I expect it will have more advance water-resistant capabilities.
While the new features will have consumers clamoring to get their hands on one, the price may steer some to stick to the 7s versions which will most likely have updated hardware but primarily mirror the iPhone 7 that was released last year. The new iPhone 8 is rumored to be priced around $999 and climbing upwards of $1400 depending on the chosen memory capacity. That’s a substantial, almost 50%, increase from the $650-$750 that we consumers have become accustomed to paying. It will be interesting to see if the higher price due to the increased technology will ultimately become a deterrent for consumers.
While the iPhone 8 will definitely steal the show at the next Apple Event, it’s worth noting the improvements that will be made to our other beloved Apple devices:
  • Apple Watch: expected to include an LTE cellular chip that will enable the watch to directly connect to wireless services and independently from the iPhone transmit emails, phone calls, and texts.
  • Apple TV: The updated model will be capable of supporting 4K resolution which will deliver twice the current viewing quality (at 1080p). In addition, look for updates to the TV app that was rolled out in 2016. It is rumored to be able to aggregate programming from apps that support live streaming (Sling, DirecTV NOW, Hulu, etc.).
Now we look to (hopefully) September 12th to discover the next chapter of what Apple hopes to disrupt the market with. With the main focus of the event being the rumored iPhone 8, it will be interesting to learn what’s actually included and, in true Apple fashion, everything else that we didn’t even fathom having included in a cellphone, watch, and streaming device.

ICYMIM: August 28, 2017

Source One's series for keeping up with the most recent highlights in procurement, sourcing, and supply chain news week to week. To stay updated on the latest supply management articles, check in with us every Monday.

The ROI of Inbound Marketing
Helen Carey, ThomasNet, 8/23/2017

With any investment, businesses want to ensure their efforts are providing a positive return by seeing evidence in the results. A recent study revealed that a greater percentage of marketing budgets are dedicated to creating content as the basis of a quality inbound marketing program. Traditional marketing programs do not necessarily offer the ROI that these inbound options do, and many organizations are considering making the initial investment to experience these results.

How To Get Started With Source-To-Pay
Tom Pellescki, BravoSolution

As Procurement groups change the focus from increasing savings to increasing value, many organizations are realizing the impact this department has on their business as a whole. Making the decision to implement a full procurement platform is a wise one, but getting the process starting can occasionally be a tedious one. To ensure this implementation runs properly and goes smoothly in general, check out these tips.

The Experience Economy and Procurement
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3, NLPA, 8/23/2017

Procurement used to be recognized as a function for strictly reducing costs, and not delivering any additional value. While professionals in this industry are capable of much more, Procurement has demonstrated that cheaper is not necessarily better. Making these changes in your procurement organization should become a priority, as the idea of receiving more value than you believe you are paying for is a goal for many businesses.
Increasing automation changing space use, predictive approach

Increased use of data in the supply chain has a number of exciting potential implications for companies hoping to speed up their fulfillment processes. In addition to enabling decision-makers to act more quickly and decisively, a stream of information from the internet of things also enables the further expansion of automation.
Warehouses and fulfillment facilities run with heavy automated components, including industrial robots. This internal change will have serious implications for supply chain experiences and expectations, as well as the physical spaces associated with high-speed sourcing and fulfillment. One of the most exciting aspects of the technology is how much potential for growth still remains.
How do today's fulfillment centers work?
A recent Architect's Newspaper piece looked at the current supply chain from a unique angle: When automated technology becomes the driving force of the industry, how is the design and usage of warehouse space changing to accommodate this fact? According to the source, the trend, being driven by large retailers such as Amazon, is toward huge spaces.
The focus on direct-to-consumer sales, with reduced need for retail shops and a need to keep a huge variety of goods ready to serve customers' whims, has caused facilities to balloon to impressive sizes. Amazon's warehouses begin around 300,000 square feet and can top 1 million. Architect's Newspaper also noted that within these spaces, large areas are set aside for functions such as box compression.
Of course, due to its multifaceted product lineup, Amazon hasn't turned entirely to computerized mega-centers. The source pointed out that the company divides up its facilities by item type. Some are staffed by individuals picking and packing products, while others are based on giant shelves patrolled only by robots. Other companies are following Amazon into setting up new fulfillment networks, with the news provider naming Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot among the firms that have altered their approaches.
Data's predictive power
While e-commerce's rise seems to incentivize huge warehouse spaces holding every conceivable piece of merchandise for customers, the increasing presence of data has had other effects on the supply chain, helping organizations offset the potential inefficiency of such a maximalist approach to inventory. As RFID Journal contributor Uwe Henning explained, data analysis is becoming so strong within today's supply chains that companies are using it to make predictions about what they'll need and where.
These projections can cause retailers to cut down their stock amounts, whether they work primarily in brick-and-mortar realm or online. Henning started that a German online seller has reduced its on-hand products by a fifth, all through the power of better demand forecasting. Crunching real-time numbers may be especially helpful in industries such as fashion, where items come in many sizes and colors, and ordering should be especially precise.
It's clear that better information technology hasn't yet had its greatest impact on the supply chain, but the two trends above represent two poles of its effects thus far. Between robotic pickers patrolling shelves full of every item imaginable and companies cutting down on the items they keep on hand due to better predictive data, there are multiple actionable strategies being put in place today.
In today's sourcing world, there are a number of directories that can assist in finding suppliers who offer specific services. But even with this information at your fingertips, there is still some more leg work required to find the supplier, or suppliers, who are best fit for a project's needs. During this pre-screening process, it's crucial to understand the criteria categories for the project, to identify these ideal candidates early on. The best way to achieve this information is to conduct a verbal RFI to discover which potential suppliers are the best candidates to invite to a sourcing event.

Check out our latest infographic, 5 Ways to Properly Identify Suppliers, to find out which criteria categories to consider during this process.

Source One offers sourcing and procurement services to support your organization in every stage of both the RFP and RFI processes. Our team of experienced consulting professionals have the market intelligence necessary for conducting, managing and responding to these documents in processes that allow the organization to make the best decisions for your business.
Source One Round Up

August 25, 2017

Here's a look at where Source One's cost reduction experts have been featured this week!


Fleet: Key Considerations
Jonathan Groda, Buyers Meeting Point, 8/18/2017

Fleet sourcing requires multiple departments to coordinate, but can be extremely rewarding for your bottom line. While sourcing for fleets can be complex, well-managed efforts almost always deliver hard dollar savings when taking a comprehensive sourcing approach. Senior Sourcing Analyst Jonathan Groda explains developing a strategy that focuses on not only saving money, but also long-term partnership potential, technology offerings, and more. Begin by understanding current fleet operations to set a baseline and then aim to develop a fleet category sourcing strategy.

Leveraging Procurement Professionals within IT and Telecom Departments
Leigh Merz, MRA Global, 8/22/2017

Procurement groups offer a holistic and strategic approach to the other departments within their organization, especially for Telecom and IT. While professionals in these groups traditionally need to be more technical, different perspectives can benefit it's operations and the department as a whole. A consultative mindset especially can provide support for managing overall supplier relationships and navigating contractual best practices. In this post, Source One Consultant Leigh Merz recommends considering seeking talent that is not within the typical technical area and exploring candidates who are capable of being more strategic in general.


Procurement and Supply Chain Professionals Happy Hour: Chicago, Illinois

As summer comes to an end, Source One approaches the two-year anniversary of opening the doors of their Chicago office. Since our grand opening, we have hosted a happy hour every year as an opportunity to meet new local professionals in the industry while catching up with old friends. We invite business partners, clients, and other procurement and supply chain professionals in Chicago to join us on September 14th for good food and drinks, and even better conversation. This happy hour is also a great excuse to celebrate Source One's 25th anniversary with some of the people who have been here throughout our journey.
This year Source One celebrates our 25th Anniversary! In honor of this milestone we're hosting a procurement professionals happy hour in the Windy City and we want to see you there!

In addition to celebrating Source One's Anniversary, we're giving you 25 reasons to attend our Chicago Procurement Professionals Happy Hour! Last week, we gave you our first round of reasons to stop by, including to brush up on your history, meet new people, gush over sports, recharge after a long week, and encourage work-life balance. Here are 5 more!

20. To Visit 120 Countries at Once – For the wander-lustful folk, if you’re looking to brag to your friends about your traveling adventures, look no further than making a detour at the Tribune Tower on your way to Source One’s Happy Hour. The Tower’s base is composed of rock from 120 iconic locations, from the Great Wall of China, to the Giza Pyramids of Egypt.

19. To Sing-Along to Some of Chicago’s Biggest Hits – Interestingly, Chicago is one of the most diverse cities when it comes to the origins of music – blues, jazz, soul, R&B, house music, and more; what better opportunity to jam to Chicago’s rich musical history than through listening at Source One’s Happy hour, surrounded by friends and colleagues. As Frank Sinatra once sang, “My kind of town, Chicago is…”

18. To Admire the Architecture & Design – While meandering down the sides walks on your way to Source One’s Happy Hour, why not take a moment to admire some of Chicago’s greatest artistic structures? From the Bean in Millennium Park, to the famous Willis Tower (Sears Tower for older audiences), Chicago remains the birthplace of the modern-day skyscraper. (Don’t believe me? Read Devil in the White City.)

17. To Eat Chicago-Style Hot Dogs –While many of us North Easterners cringe at the idea of ketchup-less hotdogs, Chicagoans proudly stand by their “dragged through the garden” creation. Though there may or may not be hotdogs available at Source One’s Happy Hour (you’ll have to show up to find out), there sure are plenty of stands to tackle on your stroll to the Hubbard Inn (Source One’s Happy Hour venue.)

16. To Support Your Local Business
– At some point in your life, have you ever have wondered “what is the advantage of restaurants having happy hours?” The answer is simple: To drum up business. The longer you’re at a restaurant growing hungrier as dinner draws near, the more likely you are to order something to satisfy that ravenous feeling gnawing at your belly. Why not provide your local business a helping hand?

Are you convinced yet? Reach out to Kaitlyn Krigbaum at for event details! 

The supply chains of the world are only as fast as their slowest components. No matter how ambitious companies' efforts to move goods become, they could be thwarted by problems such as lack of visibility or intense traffic affecting shipping, air transit or trucking. The fact that each link of the chain has a large influence on the whole structure is a great reason to look more closely at efforts to shake up age-old procedures and potentially overlooked logistics features.

To that end, it's time to focus on the ports of the world. The amount of goods flowing through these important gateways is immense, but between the complexities of customs, the challenges of tracking products and the general uncertainties of oceangoing transport, it's easy to see how upgrades may be difficult to implement. A few recent improvement projects have fought back against these issues to create new possibilities.

Los Angeles goes digital
Logistics Management focused on the efforts by General Electric and the Port of Los Angeles to improve cargo container movement within the port ecosystem. This project has already been tested in pilot form, and is based on using a new portal to track valuable data. Visibility that extends between different stakeholders can speed up the process of cargo sorting, and groups including the Harbor Trucking Association are glad to have the new solution.

The concept of a single source of truth - universal data that all relevant parties have access to - is a familiar one to supply chain organizations of all kinds. Introducing that idea to the labyrinth of shipping containers within a busy port could be a valuable approach across both the short and long terms. If ports don't manage to gain such visibility within the next few years, they could turn into blind spots within supply chains that are carefully mapped otherwise. This is the scenario Port of Los Angeles planners are hoping to avoid.

Shipping is becoming richer in its data production.Shipping is becoming richer in its data production.
Holland and Belgium level up
According to Hellenic Shipping News, new tech is on the march in both the Netherlands and Belgium. The port of Rotterdam is receiving internet of things upgrades to assist with data tracking, while Ghent is merging its port facilities with two smaller facilities. Both of these locations are the site of major new ideas relating to the use of digital logistics tools. The operators see that such upgrades are essential to please today's companies, which have high standards for the infrastructure they work with.

The news source reported that intelligent systems include real-time data sharing between stakeholders. There is an increased place for automation in these systems, with some of the cargo moving duties within the ports being handed off to unmanned vehicles and other advanced hardware. Containers themselves are becoming data-producing assets, giving off a stream of information as they cross the country.

No weak links
Efforts by ports to provide more data and increase visibility are critical to getting worldwide supply processes where companies of all kinds want them. From raw materials producers to retailers, organizations are becoming part of this more informed ecosystem.
What do The Beatles, Dream Team, the 1985 Chicago Bears, and Source One have in common? I'll give you a hint: It's not their shared skill of eye-hand coordination or ability to compose a song. What all of these teams have in common is their ability to leverage their individual band / team members' talents, backgrounds, and skill sets harmoniously to achieve their goals.

For Source One, our record books are a compilation of the results we've delivered for our clients, the milestones we've achieved as we expanded our services offering, a list of supply management accolades, and a continuously growing tool kit for procurement professionals. And while some may say the past 25 years of success can be attributed to great management or coaches - the truth is, our success is attributed to our talent. The individuals with unique, analytical mindsets and experience that make up our unmatched category expertise, all working together to help companies quantifiably improve their procurement operations.

When we set out 25 years ago, our goal was never to become the largest procurement services firm.. Rather, Source One aims to be the best. With that vision, comes a commitment to quality and as a result, a demand for top talent. As we celebrate our 25th Anniversary, we're honoring the incredible talent that sets Source One apart. The talent that delivers results for our clients day-in-and-day-out, shaping our service offering, and impacting the industry. Each month we're showcasing our team members' stories in our Source One Beneath the Surface series to give you glimpse into our secret recipe for success: our talent. Learn more about their diverse backgrounds and talents that all contribute to Source One's company culture and client experience.

This week, we present to you Senior Consultant, Torey Guingrich and Senior Analyst, Nick Harasymczuk! Click on their Beneath the Surface profile to learn more about these strategic sourcing experts!

Making supply and procurement improvements in the grocery industry involves a complicated mixture of modern technology and the challenges inherent to the field. The perishable nature of food products means that any attempt to speed up or automate the delivery and on-demand sourcing of items must be matched with technologies that will keep everything safe and fresh.

It's a tall order, and perhaps is also what has kept grocery retail from reaching its full potential as far as supply and procurement excellence are concerned. With so many ambitious and accomplished companies competing within the field, however, innovation always seems right around the corner.

State of the market
Supply Chain Dive recently offered an overview of tech-based progress in the grocery sector. In short, these companies haven't capitalized on new innovations the way corporations in other sectors have. The source quoted multiple industry surveys which pointed to similar conclusions: Complex tech implementations are difficult to pull off, and the expertise needed to make them work may be in short supply.

Staying simple and clear in the creation of objectives and initial strategies may be one way to create better procurement processes in grocery settings. Whether these implementations serve as springboards to more ambitious strategic sourcing initiatives or merely deliver much-needed improvements in efficiency, straightforward process improvements have a place in the grocery supply chain.

Current efforts dissected
The source also gave a few specific examples of grocery stores trying to buck the trend and become more IT-friendly. For instance, the fact that Whole Foods is in the midst of an acquisition by Amazon bodes well for its procurement future. Amazon's online-first nature and ambitious supply practices may vault Whole Foods ahead of its peers.

Supply Chain Dive also noted that efforts to implement consumer-friendly logistics elsewhere in the industry are in progress but incomplete. Kroger and Wegmans have implemented delivery and in-store pickup options in certain regions. These programs, however, come with extra fees. In an online-centric retail industry, that may be a consumer turn-off.

How fast can grocery logistics get, and what's holding the industry back?How fast can grocery logistics get, and what's holding the industry back?
Target gets serious
The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently reported that Target is in the process of scaling up both its grocery offerings and its high-speed delivery system. The retail giant has hired executives with specific grocery expertise. One of these new individuals comes from its fellow chain Wal-Mart, the other from General Mills.

The newspaper stated that Target's focus is on giving its customers a better selection of items in its prepared foods section, as well as bringing in offerings from more brands. The company has also acquired a startup tech firm that could help it deliver goods quickly, ramping up its same-day capabilities. With access to a new network of carriers, Target may be able to create capabilities internally that other firms accomplish through deals with third parties.

According to the Star Tribune, Target's supply chain acquisition forms a bit of a merger arms race with competitors such as Walmart and Amazon. Walmart's deals for Jet, Bonobos and ModCloth, along with Amazon's aforementioned Whole Foods deal, create a reshaped retail landscape, with big-box stores, online marketplaces and grocery all merging into one tech-driven consumer goods field.

Sourcing improves with a lack of sentiment
Every bit of value that can be taken from sourcing and procurement processes can help today's companies immensely. The move toward strategic sourcing has entailed a realization that there is money waiting to be reclaimed by businesses that effectively revise and improve their interactions with vendors.

Treating sourcing as its own strategic discipline, touching other elements of the business but not subservient to them, creates new avenues for savings and process improvement. Companies that fully commit to this approach can find exciting new opportunities that they may have taken for granted in the not-so-distant past.

The power of neutrality
Becoming truly strategic about sourcing and procurement decisions means putting everything on the table: According to contributor Andrew Durlak, companies that take a neutral approach to their current supply partners might find advantages and opportunities they've been overlooking. He advised organizations to put faith in their strategic sourcing tools, even when that means reexamining an existing contract or going in a new direction.

Departments that have been using one vendor for a long time may feel locked into that choice. Doing things one way feels natural, and thus renewing the contract may seem to have more of an efficiency factor than it really does, due to force of habit. Durlak urged against favoritism. Using digital data to contribute to supplier choice is one way to clear away the ambiguity and see what the real best deal is.

Tough questions are key. Durlak quoted research by The Harvard Business Review, in which Uber's Neil Aronson stated that trusting a strategic sourcing solution means getting to the heart of the matter, when stakeholders may be inclined to stick with an inefficient contract. Leaders willing to give their procurement departments the power to explore this way, rather than simply acting as cogs in the process of setting up contracts, are really embracing strategic sourcing.

Information is the future of procurement.
Information is the future of procurement.
Analytics has arrived
The use of data to help decision-makers do their work has become a theme throughout all kinds of industries and functions over the past few years. Spend Matters, recapping a webinar by its founder Jason Busch, pointed out that the use of analysis is becoming an inseparable part of digital sourcing. Companies that have strategic sourcing platforms installed are crunching numbers more effectively than ever, and this is pointing them to better decisions.

Using data to determine supplier suitability is the opposite of being tied to contracts due to personal contacts or a hesitance to change. As solutions become more advanced, admitting more variables and taking important new information into account, these projections can become more precise, giving decision-makers an increasingly more granular and accurate view.

Busch added that in both analytics, in particular, and strategic sourcing, in general, ease of use is becoming a major trend. Procurement leaders today don't have to master dozens of esoteric computer systems to gain access to better insights. The tools they have at their disposal are increasingly easy to use, which is helping their chances of becoming truly mainstream tech options. The next steps for procurement in the digital age could lead to still more confident decision-making.
In my last post, I explored cost-related considerations for three basic household items deodorant, beverages, and paper towels, goods I know I purchase regularly and can forecast annual use. The blog is essentially a guide to evaluating your annual consumption of household goods by considering where you procure goods from and how they get to your home. This type of analysis is great for standard, commonly purchased items, but what about standard, non-branded purchases like rice and fruit? We consume a wide breadth of goods whose distribution networks are not easily compared like La Croix or deodorant.  

When was the last time you looked at a bag of rice or pile of fruit and asked yourself “is this the best cost I can find?” For me, it was Monday. I look forward to grocery trips as if I were getting a round of shots; too many decisions to make, too many people to interact with, too many things I would rather be doing. I am always looking for ways to lower my grocery bill. For goods where a brand does not matter, I look at the unit price, typically measured as a cost per weight for food items. The first thing to understand is that the cost of food, as well as most goods, is a function of the supply chain. That is to say, typically the cost per unit of measurement grows the more packaging is used, the farther from the source production, the more hands touching the product, and the seasonality of goods. To maximize my purchasing power, while keeping my tummy satisfied, I follow a few guidelines:

  • Bulk is better, I generally purchase staple products in the bulk section of my local grocer. I can control the amount I purchase and the cost per unit is clearly identified. I try to stay away from pre-packaged bags of rice or veggies, the less packaging, the lower the cost.
  • Understand what is in season, during the winter months I purchase citrus and root vegetables, rather than berries and asparagus. Usually, those brightly colored “sale” signs point to what is in season. You may have to do a little bit of research to understand seasonality, but the research tends to pay off when you get fresh food at the peak of ripeness.
  • Think local > regional > national > global, with respect to product origin. This principle is similar and related to seasonality, but still worth explicit consideration. A pound of asparagus from the farmer down the road may require an extra stop but could save you a few bucks. Unfortunately, not all of us live in close proximity to a local farm. In a city setting, I suggest visiting the local farmers market to see how their prices stack up against the supermarket, you may be surprised.

In addition to the simple guidelines above, I try to plan my weekly meals ahead of time, before I visit the grocer or local market. Since I walk everywhere, it is not feasible for me to carry home goods for more than a week at a time and, as an added benefit, I cut down on food waste by not having excess fruits and veggies go bad before I can use them. Planning cuts down the time I have to spend at the store and allows me to work grocery shopping conveniently into my schedule. If you drive to the store, consider the cost of fuel to make explicit trips to the grocery store or farmers market. It may not seem like much in the greater scheme of the grocery bill, but those fuel costs do add up over time. By working grocery shopping into your regularly scheduled activities, coming home from work or heading home from the gym, you can cut down on unnecessary fuel costs.

Next time you plan to visit your grocer of choice or local fruit stand, I hope you consider how minor changes to your weekly routine could benefit you financially, by saving hard dollar cost, and logistically, by cutting down on unnecessary trips to the store. Good luck grocering!

ICYMIM: August 21, 2017

Source One's series for keeping up with the most recent highlights in procurement, sourcing, and supply chain news week to week. To stay updated on the latest supply management articles, check in with us every Monday.

Where Macroeconomics Collides with Microeconomics (Multi-lateral Trade Agreements Part 1 of 2)
Kelly Barner, Art of Procurement, 8/16/2017

Part one of this two-part post discusses how trade agreements are crucial factors in many global supply chains because of the macroeconomic basis they provide for private sector agreements. By outlining restrictions for foreign-based companies or companies who have headquarters in different nations, these agreements are often seen as costly due to tariffs and similar fees. Barner offers two recent examples of trade agreements that are causing delays for industries and specific businesses, including China and America's differences over steel and aluminum.

How Should Procurement Customer Service Be Measured?
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3, 8/15/2017

In this edition of PurchTips, Dominick offers topics and sample questions for measuring internal customer satisfaction that can be crucial for demonstrating the effectiveness of a procurement organization. These examples are supportive in identifying what factors should be measured and what other information can be used to capture how valuable procurement's contributions are throughout the organization. This feedback is important when making improvements to procurement performance and managing this group of professionals.

Why You Need To Expand Your Business To New Markets 
Christina O'Handley, Tom's Blog, 8/17/2017

Suppliers and buyers alike should never allow their business to be too dependent on one customer or manufacturer. While buyers are seeking to diversify their supply base, it's important for suppliers and manufacturers to explore new markets and expand their offerings that can increase their customer base to introduce new customers and new opportunities for revenue. Your company can gain a competitive advantage through diversifying that will allow room for growth through new products, new connections, and new industries.

The next revolution is approaching! “Industry 4.0” is the term being coined for the occasion. This means making computers smarter and enabling machines to make autonomous decisions. This increasing need to rely on artificial intelligence is driven by big data and automation of what to do with it when human intelligence falls short.

Supply chain is certainly not the only industry attempting to tackle big data, but what exactly does this mean for its stakeholders? It means the winners and losers of procurement will be determined by how quickly companies can adjust to the increasing volume and complexity of data.

As an analyst, I receive clients’ raw spend data to evaluate with goals of identifying savings opportunities and determining where stakeholders can improve most on their ROI. The initial process requires conducting a spend analysis, which relies heavily on human input for meticulous data cleansing and standardization. Using a best-fitting taxonomy and following the 80/20 rule, I categorize each supplier into appropriate areas of spend. This process can be tedious, time-consuming, and most consequently, prone to human error. Additionally, changes and additions to clients’ datasets are tracked to provide up-to-date and accurate analyses – meaning continuous manual work. However, Industry 4.0 is here to increase the efficiency of this process.

On a small scale, Industry 4.0 would introduce advanced analytic techniques such as data automation via machine learning and data mining in order to minimize human error. Smart automation would be able to facilitate spend analyses, enabling quick turnarounds for supply chain specialists to clients. Furthermore, this technology increases accuracy without compromising the quality of deliverables. Analysts will be able to face the challenge of dealing with big data and ensure best practice to achieve client goals.
Consumer preferences: The engine of supply chain evolution
There is no better way to figure out where supply chain evolution is heading than to determine how customer preferences have changed over the past few years. No matter how determined they are to be strategic leaders, sourcing professionals' jobs are highly responsive. New practices and operations within supply chains are at their best when they bring processes in line with what individuals are looking for.
In recent years, trends such as e-commerce have changed the traditional retail paradigm. Breakthroughs in ordering and shipping have incentivized new patterns of consumption. Dealing with these has inspired shifts in supply chain strategy, at least at organizations in step with the times. Being aware of these changes and more will prove critical in the years ahead.
Rerouting the supply chain
Manufacturers are developing new channels for delivery, according to Supply Chain Quarterly, taking advantage of a new interest in direct-to-consumer sales to change their operations. Companies that once dealt with the public only through third-party retailers have decided to scale up their own ability to process orders and ship them. Of course, considering that this may represent a whole new line of business for several of these organizations, the pressure is on to build successful practices in a hurry.
Supply Chain Quarterly noted that when surveyed, consumer packaged goods manufacturers overwhelmingly believed selling directly to consumers will be a relevant strategy in the years ahead, and something consumers will want. In total, 87 percent stated that this method has merit and 48 percent are already working on building direct-to-consumer supply chains.
The new elements that will be necessary to make these chains work are many and varied, and include new distribution and fulfillment centers. Furthermore, they will have to ponder whether their delivery options are up to standards. Since an increasing amount of commerce is being carried out without brick-and-mortar stores in recent years, expectations are high. Venturing into direct sales then offering a disappointing service could hurt manufacturers rather than help.

Consumer demand is at the root of supply chain evolution.
Consumer demand is at the root of supply chain evolution.
Staying ready to evolve
Sourcing Journal Online contributor Bill D'Arienzo pointed out the factors that have made clothing manufacturers rethink their approaches to logistics over the past few years, with direct-to-consumer sales ranking high among them. Fashion leaders have placed direct selling alongside a number of other disruptive trends, including the changing balance of power between different categories of retail stores, as well as the rise of merchants such as Amazon, which haven't traditionally been considered players in the clothing sector.
While each change is a little different, the kind of response demanded follows a general pattern. As D'arienzo pointed out, manufacturers are tuning up their supply chains to cope with consumers' new preferences. They are hoping to get their items in people's hands more quickly, with smaller lots enabling greater flexibility and hopefully enabling them to compete in the midst of constant disruption.
Detecting changes in consumer sentiment as early as possible is important for today's supply chain organizations, no matter where they fall between raw materials and the final sale. Audience desires will have ripple effects felt at all levels and by companies of all descriptions.
Did you know... Source One turns 25 this year! With a quarter of a century as a leading procurement services provider, we have much to celebrate! What better way to honor the occasion than with our friends and partners in a Chicago Procurement Professionals Happy Hour?

Thinking about attending but having a hard time tearing yourself away from work to attend? We've got a number of reasons you should be there: 

25. To Brush Up on Your History – Alright, while no one’s really hitting that pub crawl to admire the wonderful decades of alcohol history, it’s worth noting that happy hours began during prohibition, where sly men and women would sneak into speak easies for a quick refresher prior to dinnertime.

24. To Meet New People – What better excuse to push yourself outside your comfort zone, strengthen your ties to the Chicagoland community, and broaden your circle of friends and flames than through Source One’s Procurement Professional Happy Hour? Who knows, you might even meet the next love of your life!

23. To Gush Over Upcoming Sports Seasons – Ready for the Cub’s big debut in the 2017 World Series this fall? Or how ‘bout the Black Hawks, favored Stanley Cup champs for the past few years? What better way to geek out over the upcoming sports seasons than at the Source One Happy Hour!

22. To Recharge After a Long Week – As Aziz Ansari once famously chanted on Parks & Rec, “TREAT YO SELF!” After all, you work hard, you play hard. Everyone deserves a break, including you. You owe it to yourself to show up at Source One’s Happy Hour.

21. To Encourage Work-Life Balance – Besides simply recharging after grueling hours of work, happy hours like Source One’s event can provide a much needed balance between work life and social life that is so fundamental to maintaining one’s health and personal fulfillment between productivity and relaxation. 

For further information on Source One's Chicago Procurement Professional Happy Hour, please contact Kaitlyn Krigbaum at

Source One Round Up

August 18, 2017

Here's a look at where Source One's cost reduction experts have been featured this week!


Strengthening Your Strategic Sourcing Process by Incorporating Six Sigma Methodologies
Kevin Fraser, NLPA, 8/16/2017

DMAIC is a data-driven strategy that is utilized to improve processes, and is an integral part of Six Sigma. These methodologies are very similar to strategic sourcing, in that they both aim to achieve more cost-effective and overall efficient results. If you incorporate DMAIC into your strategic sourcing process, you have the opportunity to leverage those elements to optimize both the analysis and strategy for your process. In this blog, Source One Project Analyst Kevin Fraser breaks down the five phases of the DMAIC acronym and explains their role in sourcing.


Procurement and Supply Chain Professionals Happy Hour: Chicago, Illinois
In 2015, Source One opened the doors of it's Chicago office and hosted a happy hour to celebrate this expansion and meet professionals from the industry local to our new neighborhood. Business partners, clients, friends and other procurement and supply chain professionals are invited to come out on to Chicago River North on September 14 to enjoy great drinks, food, and conversation with other thought leaders in the industry. This event is also a great opportunity to recognize Source One's 25th anniversary by celebrating with some of the people who have supported us throughout the years.
Procurement departments' strategic involvement has benefits

How much decision-making responsibility resides with each section of a company's supply chain leadership? Where does tactical thinking end and strategy begin? These questions may determine whether sourcing operations live up to corporate expectations, fall short, or excel beyond businesses' goals. In the end, making sure sourcing input is made early in the process, and given appropriate overall weight for decision-making purposes, is the crux of strategic sourcing. It's up to organizations to figure out how to make this connection.
Getting personnel on the same page
Supply and Demand Chain Executive contributor Chris Crane recently explained that ingrained mindsets currently hold that procurement is a tactical rather than strategic operation, with personnel not getting involved until the only matters left to settle are the specifics of deals with suppliers. Crane believes that shaking off this current operational structure and including procurement teams in the strategic matters underlying the supply chain will have positive effects, to the tune of 9 percent sourcing budget savings.
Procurement officials hoping to get involved in some of the higher-level decisions behind deal-making should be ready to shake up the orthodoxy of their companies' operations. Crane suggested using logic to institute such a change, with sourcing pros pointing out that they and the IT solutions they use can inform the rest of the organization and save money.
When departments have strategic souring tools that set responsibilities by the individual, they can help get the new partnership between traditional leaders and procurement teams working. Crane noted that communication in general is an essential part of improving the supply chain. When every part of the organization knows what the rest is doing, there is less chance that a new approach to sourcing will lead to short- or long-term confusion or inefficiency. This close, new relationship between departments can deliver real financial advantages over time.

Real-time data is another sourcing boon.
Real-time data is another sourcing boon.
Working with better data
Having people working in tandem toward better deals and improved procurement is one way to make the whole process, but it's worth considering whether those individuals have the tools they need to make ideal decisions. Spend Matters explained that the singular platforms used by sourcing operations - the ones Crane recommended to help the team communicate on strategic matters - should also become repositories of real-time data.
When companies can all have access to the same streams of content, especially about matters such as previous purchase records, inventory information and market reports, they are ready to work intelligently with their suppliers. A disconnect about these facts - or a simple lack of insights - could prevent teams from working together effectively and limit their ability to maximize sourcing effectiveness.
The two elements described above are closely tied together: Having the right content to inform decisions is one way to make those choices better, and opening them up to expert employees is another. The goal when it comes to procurement is simple: Get the company the best possible deal. The methods organizations are using to reach that objective are becoming more varied and forward-thinking today, but that strong central objective remains at the center of operations.
As Jennifer mentioned in her previous blog, getting a grasp on the status of your organization prior to engaging in any sourcing event is critical to ensure that you have a sound understanding of where you stand in terms of priorities, organization, and accountability. This is especially important for larger companies with footprints spanning multiple locations and (potentially) multiple countries. Ultimately you need a plan, and without one you are setting you and your sourcing team up for headaches, inefficient practices, and money left on the table!
Facilities Management Sourcing Challenges Blog Mini Series Part 4
Once you can accurately assess the current state of your facilities, and have conducted a successful sourcing initiative, you then must determine what course of action you want to implement within your locations. There are several avenues you can pursue – ranging from purchasing facilities management software applications to help track and monitor your inventory levels, resource allocation, and labor to deploying a third party procurement team to help transform your department and prepare it for long term success.

There are dozens of management software and sourcing resources available to companies today. Whichever direction you choose to go, here are four categories you should to consider before making an investment in a facilities management program:

Every facility has a software application of some kind used to manage, monitor, and run. Whether it is a server that holds contracts, service agreements, employee records, inventory management, or time cards, you need it to run your business day to day. These essential programs are the backbone of your organization, and without them you’d cease operations.

Transactional software applications are just how they sound – basic and straightforward. These applications will help you manage inventory levels, provide a repository for any and all contracts/service agreements, and allow your procurement team to centralized information in a single location at a tactical level.

Functional software provides companies with a cost effective resource to manage their business. In additional to tactical organizational value, this software tracks detailed asset and equipment information, manages maintenance costs, streamlines work orders and preventative maintenance, helps maximize the useful life of assets, reduces space and maintenance costs and much more. This allows managers to manage, and employees to focus on their day to day responsibilities without having to worry about having organizational data readily available.

Strategic software is designed to help your organization handle multiple complexities to assist your company and position it for continued growth. While these types of software can provide all the services listed in the transactional and functional categories, it also has additional capabilities that can grow with your company if you plan to expand and develop your current business. Extended offerings may not be important at first, but it is good to know the service platform you are choosing can grow alongside your business.

In a world where everything continues to become automated, there are still other options available to help get your facilities organized and on the right track that aren’t as platform oriented. Third party consulting firms (such as Source One Management Services, LLC), can work with your current teams to implement sound sourcing processes internally without investing in automation. These firms can also assess your teams and perform unbiased analysis of their strengths, weaknesses, and areas they can improve. Firms offer these services for a predetermined fee, hourly rate, or even a contingency plan based on the amount of spend your facilities generate.

Just because you have successfully sourced a category doesn’t mean the process stops there. Determining how you will implement these wholesale organizational and cultural changes in your company is just as important. Whether you choose to implement via a facilities management program, third party consulting firm, or a combination of both, it is the actions of those parties moving forward that will determine the overall success of your strategic sourcing process. Thank you for following along throughout this mini-series. Be sure to check back on TheStrategicSourcer for more featured articles on facility management, as well as a variety of other categories and subject matters!